The strains and types of seasonal influenza vaccinations for this year have been announced
This year there is a new A strain (H3N2) and a new strain for the B Victoria linage, the Federal Health Department has announced.
The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the Australian 2019 season will contain the following four virus strains:
- A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
- A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/8060/2017(H3N2) like virus
- B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 – like virus**
- B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 – like virus
** not included in Fluzone High Dose® or Fluad® for people aged 65 years and over
The Department of Health says the benefit to those aged 65 years and over being vaccinated with the higher immunogenicity influenza vaccine (Fluad® or Fluzone® High-Dose) is likely to offset any loss of protection against the additional strain in the quadrivalent vaccine.
There will be five free vaccines available in 2019 through the National Immunisation Program (NIP), with more than six million doses secured of the following:
- FluQuadri™ Junior for children aged 6-35 months
- FluQuadri™ or Fluarix Tetra® for people aged 3 years to 64 years
- Afluria Quad® for people aged 5 years to 64 years
- Fluad® for people aged 65 years and over
Those eligible for a free flu shot under the National Immunisation Program include people 65 years and over, pregnant women, those who suffer chronic conditions as well as – for the first time – all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People from six months of age.
Government-funded influenza vaccines will start to become available from mid-April 2019.
As influenza usually occurs from June, with the peak around August, vaccinating from mid-April 2019 will allow people to develop immunity before influenza transmission is at its peak, says Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy.
“Influenza seasons and severity are unpredictable. However, what we do know is that vaccination is the most important measure we have to prevent influenza and its complications,” says Professor Murphy.
“The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely that the flu will spread in the community. Influenza is a major cause of illness in the Australian community, and in some cases can result in death.”
Immunisation providers can order vaccines online now.